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DFS to expand elsewhere in Asia as it leaves Singapore's Changi

[SINGAPORE] DFS Group Ltd plans to further expand in Asia even as the travel retailer looks to exit the liquor and tobacco business in Singapore's Changi Airport.

The company will open its seventh store in Macau and fourth store in Hong Kong by the end of the year, while its Hong Kong flagship store will be renovated by next year, its spokesman said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. DFS will also open its second European store in Paris in April, it said.

DFS decided not to bid to continue selling alcohol and cigarettes at Asia's third-busiest airport for international passengers, after almost 40 years. It said that changing regulations on the sale of these products against a background of geopolitical uncertainty meant staying at Changi was not a "financially viable option". South Korea's two biggest duty-free companies Hotel Lotte Co and Hotel Shilla Co are among bidders to take over the business.

Even with this exit, DFS said it has some airport projects in the pipeline, without disclosing details.

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The company also clarified that options will be available to about 500 people who work at the Changi liquor and tobacco operations after its concession ends in June. These include working with the new operator as well as deployment at DFS's other businesses in Singapore, it said.